Thunderball (1965-12-11)

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  • Status: Released
  • Runtime: 130m
  • Popularity: 22.886
  • Language: en
  • Budget: $5,500,000
  • Revenue: $141,195,658
  • Vote Average: 6.644
  • Vote Count: 2010

  • John Chard

    Sir, I'd respectfully request that you change my assignment to Nassau. Thunderball is directed by Terence Young and adapted to screenplay by Richard Maibaum and John Hopkins from a story by Kevin McClory, Jack Whittingham and Ian Fleming. It stars Sean Connery, Adolfo Celi, Claudine Auger, Rick Van Nutter and Martine Beswick. Music is scored by John Barry and cinematography by Ted Moore. The fourth outing for James Bond (Connery) sees 007 assigned to the Bahamas to try and thwart SPECTRE's number 2 operative, Emilio Largo (Celi). Largo has hijacked two atomic bombs from NATO and sets about extorting huge ransoms of money. If his terms are not met he will blow up major cities. It was meant to be the first James Bond film, but Thunderball became part of a long drawn out legal battle between Kevin McClory, Jack Whittingham and Ian Fleming. Eventually an out of court settlement was reached and Thunderball rolled into theatres in 1965. After the colossal success of Goldfinger, and Bond as a pop culture phenomenon, producers Albert Broccoli & Harry Saltzman knew that they had to try and up the ante to keep Bond on top. They were also acutely aware that many imitators were springing up on film and TV. These facts led Bond to go epic, with the producers going for a more is more approach, however, Thunderball is a considerable step down from Goldfinger. As with many other Bond movies, Thunderball polarises opinions amongst the fans. Some are happy to laud the pure entertainment value on offer, the reliance on hardware and gadgets viewed as an aid to the Bond persona and not a hindrance to his humanistic worth. Technically the film is often exceptional, be it on or under the water, director Young really crafts some Bondian quality. The exotic Bahamas locale is beautifully realised by Ted Moore, Barry's blunderbuss score is one of his best for a Bond movie and Connery has charisma in abundance. The girls, too, are delightful, particularly Auger who positively sizzles with sexuality. Bond's by play with M, Q and Felix Leiter (Nutter very enjoyable and more charismatic than Cec Linder in Goldfinger) is well scripted and performed. While for those who adore the gadgets and daring stunts? Thunderball excels with its assortment of trick vehicles, under water weaponry, aids and radioactive pills! Without doubt the near $6 million budget is all up there on the screen. Yet for other fans, and this is the category I fall into, it's a film of too many flaws to be considered one of the greats. Whilst it's undeniable that when it hits the high points it excites royally (the extended underwater battle is eye popping brilliance), but there's too many languid passages in the overlong running time. Young himself lamented that he couldn't get the pace right on account of the plot structure. The other major problem for me is Celi as Largo. Visually he's striking, with his white hair and eye patch, he looks well villainous, but physically he's wrong and someone you can't buy into as a man able to not only take on Bond, but to overcome him as well! While the finale lacks a grandness to reward those having sat for over 2 hours with the film. But what do I know? Film made a stunning $141 million at the box office! And the fanaticism that began with Goldfinger had now reached epic proportions. The more is more approach worked for the makers, and it ensured that for the time being Bond was going to stay in this epic, gadget effects strewn groove. Connery wasn't happy though, he had voiced his concerns about Bond becoming characterless, while he hated the mania surrounding the films and his role within them. He would return for the next instalment, You Only Live Twice, but the question was, would it be his last performance as Bond? 7/10

  • Peter McGinn

    It can be difficult and not very useful to compare the early James Bond movies to the later ones. The female characters become more than merely ornamental and more interesting, the plots become more intricate, the villains less stereotypical, and the special effects better and better. Having said all that, I must confess I give Thunderball a pass on any such criticism or comparison, for a rather odd and personal reason, and not just because I like Sean Connery! As a teenager I sort of inherited the soundtrack album for Thunderball, either from my dad or an older brother. That was well before I ever saw the movie. Except for the Tom Jones title song, the album is all instrumental, and I found myself playing the album while doing school work, or reading, or writing short stories and later on, novels. I am surprised I didn't wear the grooves out. Later my taste moved towards instrumental new age and finally on to ambient music. Where was I? Oh yeah, so when I finally watched Thunderball, I recognized the background music whenever it came into play. So I liked this film in a way I never quite experienced with other James Bond films. I admit I don’t know that this helps prospective viewers, so I will add that if the newer Bond films seem to glossy and too much like each other for your taste, Thunderball is a slightly different animal, so you might enjoy it. And did I mention it includes a Sean Connery?

  • Wuchak

    _**James Bond underwater adventure with the best female cast**_ After a couple atomic bombs are stolen from the RAF, agent 007 (Sean Connery) travels to Nassau, Bahamas, to clash with SPECTRE agent Emil Largo (Adolfo Celi) and his femme fatale accomplice (Luciana Paluzzi). Claudine Auger is on hand as Largo’s naïve woman. "Thunderball" (1965) is one of my favorites of Connery’s run in the franchise due to the interesting intrigue, the Tom Jones’-sung title song, and the best cast of women in the series. Other than Luciana Paluzzi (Fiona) and Claudine Auger (Domino), Molly Peters plays a voluptuous masseuse at a health clinic while statuesque Martine Beswick is on hand as an MI6 agent in the Bahamas (Beswick previously appeared in “From Russia with Love” as one of the Gypsy cat-fighters). I was surprised that the bulk of the flick takes place in the Bahamas as “Dr. No” (1962) took place mostly in Jamaica, which is 400 miles south in the Caribbean. For those interested, “Thunderball” was remade as the non-canon “Never Say Never Again” (1983), which was Connery’s final excursion as 007. I prefer this one, which was the most successful Bond flick of the 60s (at the box office), but “Never Say Never Again” is worth checking out even though it’s not as ambitious as Roger Moore’s dynamic “Octopussy,” released the same year. The film runs 2 hour, 10 minutes and was shot in Château d'Anet, Anet (opening) & Paris, France; England; and the Bahamas. GRADE: A-

  • The Movie Mob

    **Thunderball goes all out, taking James Bond to new heights (and depths) with bigger action sequences, new gadgets, deadly villains, and beautiful locations. Thunderball is peak 60s Bond!** Thunderball is my favorite of Sean Connery’s James Bond films. How could it not be? With the Bond formula finally established, Thunderball takes it all to the next level! With Sean Connery returning as the suave secret agent, villainous femme fatale Fiona, Claudine Auger’s stunning Bond Girl Domino, a bad guy with an eye patch, climactic underwater battles, jet packs, evil shark booby traps, the beautiful Bahamian beaches, and Tom Jones singing Thunderball, the Connery’s fourth entry as Bond is an outstanding campy and wild ride. All the 60s charm and camp permeate every aspect of the film, creating a ton of classic goofy charm (and a few awkward comments that aren’t very politically correct nowadays). Thunderball cranked everything up to eleven, creating a lot of fun and so many spy movie tropes for decades to come.

  • GenerationofSwine

    This is certainly the last of the classic 007 films. This is the last time we see 007 as the cold hearted assassin that he is. The last time we see a Bond that, the only reason he's really a good guy is because of what side he is on and not what he is. In later films they call him a blunt instrument, but in this film he actually still is. He's still the trigger man. He still has no respect for human life and is only really concerned about the mission. After this we enter the era of Silly 007, with a layover for Lazenby who walked the line and ended up more Cannery than Moore. And as where the Silly Bonds do still have their appeal (and trust me, I still love them) the franchise never seemed as lethal or as cool again. But, rest assured, this is also the 007 where Special Effects and over-the-top stunts made their introduction and would later become a much loved 007 trope. So it stands as a bridge between classic and contemporary 007, and as much as I love them both, I like the classic 007 just a little more.

  • drystyx

    This is the hay day of Bond. We get it all. Stunning women, great gadgets, non stop action, wit, and the exotic scenery that make 007 films so iconic. We also get the two greatest evil henchmen deaths in 007 film History, and may in film History. The boardroom assassination sticks out, because we know which of the two men is the embezzler by his demeanor. Innocent men have no idea how to prove their innocence, and so they sweat. It is the guilty man who thinks he has his tracks covered. The other henchman death is little fish "Quist", in a scene brutal and brilliant. The underwater battle scene still remains to this day as the most action packed and best directed underwater action scene in Film History. There is so much else going for this film that it would take ten pages to explain. Suffice to say it is a top five 007 film. I rank it about with Goldfinger. Goldfinger has more charm, while Thunderball has more excitement.and action.I usually rank Goldfinger 4th and this one 3rd, but I go back and forth on that.